Parametric Modeling in AutoCAD

In this Viewpoint article, Neil Katz, who has spent over 20 years at SOM working on the computational design aspects of many projects, shows how he has been using AutoCAD–which is typically not considered as a parametric tool–as a perfectly acceptable tool for applying parametric modeling as a design approach.


3 thoughts on “Parametric Modeling in AutoCAD

  1. I read your article; it is nice to remember that we can use the AutoCAD Auto lisp to model our designs parametrically. However, we can model this tower so easily using many 3D, CAAD, software. That could be by modeling one element or more, then copying it using the instance-copy method so that when we modify any element’s parameter, then all the other instanced elements will be immediately modified. For example in minutes, you could model the whole tower model using 3ds max.

    I know it’s a great thing to have the whole of your design be modified when you modify an element, not just the doors, windows, cabinets, … (it’s Harmonized Design), but until now it is much easier, faster and safer to modify each element alone. I am talking here about the conceptual design phase as an architect.

    Another issue — for the solar incidence angle analysis, could this method be adjusted to give us numerical values and not just colors for the solar exposure?

    Thanks for the nice article.

    Sam N

  2. Thanks for your comments, Sam.

    I think that AutoCAD is one of many tools that an architect can use to “parametrically” model a design. I think that people who use AutoCAD for parametric modeling have a certain mindset about design, in which they want to describe the “logic” of a design, and have elements conform to that logic, rather than model or adjust specific elements. In my article I tried to discuss this mindset, and convey that one who designs this way can even use AutoCAD as a design tool (most people don’t use AutoCAD this way). There are many other tools as well, some of which are specifically tailored to designing and modeling in this manner. One can use 3ds max, Rhino, and other tools not specifically designed for parametric modeling (as I describe it) in a similar way.

    The solar incidence angle analysis did actually compute the numeric values for each panel and for each date and time. These values were converted to colors for visualization. Our engineers actually did ask for these numbers, and we provided them.


  3. Thanks for the reply,

    I agree with your replay, but using this method, it looks like modeling the concept we already have it.

    I have written an article titled – (Computer Aided Design) vs. (Computer Aided Drafting) -, as Most designers and architects are using CAD packages (AutoCAD for instance) as drafting tools to draw the sketches done by the architects, or they use it for architectural visualization. Therefore, it is not just about the software, but it is also, about how we use the software in our work.

    I think, there is a critical difference between using the software to model a design, and between using the software to design a model. (Model a design vs. Design a model) Well at least this is my opinion.

    Words are not enough to describe our designs so we have to translate it into a visual format to be sensible by the others. Therefore, can I ask you, as you are a veteran architect, how do you interpret your conceptual visual design into seeable format?

    We know, the experienced architect can imagine and draw a full 3D model for the design in his/her mind without needing to use any external tool to represent his/her design. You can imagine the design (perspectives, materials colors, shapes, elevations, plans …etc) while you are sitting and relaxing on your sofa with your eyes closed.

    Some people say the role of sketches and plans are just to interpret our thoughts to a visual format, do you think this just the role of digital architecture! Nevertheless, drawing the sketches on paper doesn’t affect the quality of the design. I am still discussing the effects of digital methods on the quality of the architectural designs.

    Now I am working on the final stages of my Master research about “Digital architecture and it’s affects on the architectural design quality during conceptual design phase” However, most of design department members in the faculty of architecture like the research.

    Nevertheless, most of them has criticized the title “conceptual design phase” and asked why I am just going to study the role of the architectural software in this phase. I commented: “when we have the design concept finished. Then after this phase all, what we have to do (in most cases) is drafting works besides doing some of the retouching works, and that is drafting not designing.”

    I tried to define what is the design and the architectural design before I discuss the digital architectural design methods, so profs said the computer couldn’t be a designer , I said that’s right the pen and the paper (we use it to sketch an imaginable design) those are not designer too, the CG or CAD… are effective helpful tools . The research is vast and the space here is not enough to discuss all of its aspects (such as did the digital architecture designing methods produce a new architecture reflects the power of this new technique).

    Here is how I use my parametric modeling

    Thanks again for this article,

    And thanks to PhD Dr. Lachmi Khemlani for these interesting topics

    Architect Sam N

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